|What amilyn likes about this machine|
I had an Opal 650 for two months before I decided I really want to invest in a nicer machine. I was looking for an automatic thread cutter, larger space to the right of the needle, and something heavier for stability. The saleswoman recommended the Sapphire 875Q and that's what I ended up getting. She sent me away with the machine and the quilting package (the extension table, free motion quilting foot, walking foot, and a 1/4 inch piecing foot) for $2000 with 34 months no interest financing. I couldn't help feeling a bit irked, though, that she didn't mention that this machine would soon be phased out and replaced with the new generation of Sapphires that will have LED lights (something I really miss about my Opal) and color touch screens. Had I waited just a bit longer, I could have gotten a better deal. But! That's neither here nor there. On to the review!
1. Sturdy. The machine feels hefty, not cheap. I love that my arms ache when I have to move it around. There's little shaking when it hums along, which is nice.
2. All the included feet. I felt a bit disappointed that my Opal only came with the absolute basic feet, so it was nice to get all the extras with this machine. I did get the quilter's package, though, so if you buy this machine without that, you'll have to buy a walking foot, free-motion foot, and piecing foot. Which...doesn't make much sense, considering this is the "Quilter's Model." Those should be included, but whatever. It still comes with a lot of feet.
3. Bobbin sensor: I like that you get a warning that your bobbin thread is low while you're quilting. Makes it easy to find a nice spot to stop.
4. Harp space: I like that it's 10 inches to the right of the needle, but I do wish that they'd made the height from the plate to the bottom of the arm a little higher. Even with the 10 inches, it feels cramped to try and quilt anything larger than a twin quilt. But maybe that's just me.
What amilyn does not like about this machine
1. The thread cutter: This is incredibly frustrating. While it works, the thread cutter is SLOW! By the time you hit the button and it finishes, you could have already manually pulled your fabric away, cut it yourself, and started on your next piece. I have seen other machines (like my teacher's Viking Mega Quilter) cut much faster and leave less thread behind. My Sapphire leaves a decent trail of thread when I use the automatic thread cutter and I end up having to trim them down. How is that saving me time? If you're looking at this machine, I suggest you take in some pre-cut pieces to the store and judge for yourself. Do a little piecing and see if you mind those extra seconds of sitting there waiting for your machine to cut and see if you mind the extra thread.
2. No presser foot lever: I have mixed feelings on this. I do love the "Ready, set, sew!" feeling that I get when I don't have to bother lowering the foot and I love the automatic raising of the foot with the needle down when I'm doing curves, but I find myself having to guess where it's going to land when I start a seam. You know what I mean? If I'm piecing, I use the 1/4 foot. I line up my fabric ready to go underneath but because the foot is raised until you start sewing (or unless you press the button to lower it), it's hard to judge where it will land. The button to raise and lower the foot works, of course, but I feel like it would be faster to just have a presser foot lever to do minute adjustments.
3. Lighting: I only had my Opal for two months, but I am pining after the LED lights. There are only two regular lights on the Sapphire and it's quite dark, does a poor job of letting you see your fabric. Not a problem for sewers sewing in a really well-lit room, but I thought I'd mention it.
4. Automatic tension: When this works, it works well. When it doesn't, it's frustrating to try and fix it yourself because the adjustments are all hidden in option menu. It's supposed to automatically know what tension level you need based on what you tell it you're sewing on, but I've found that the tension is way too tight on the "Medium Woven, Seam" setting. Something you'd have to see for yourself.
5. Sewing issues: I say that because its issues are not limited to one specific thing. I took the machine into my dealer because sometimes (not all the time) when I'd sew an embroidery stitch, the machine would just lock up and continue to sew in the same exact spot without the feed dogs pulling it along. We tried using different fabrics, different thread, cleaning the bobbin case, and it still kept doing it. We tried a different stitch and it worked fine. Then we went back to the problem stitch and it worked. It's just a little finicky like that. I also had a problem where the threads weren't cutting all the way. Annoying.
Most of the reviews for this machine on this site are very positive, so maybe I have a dud. Who knows. I would just really stress that you take it for an extended spin before you buy it so you can figure out your own feelings on the thread cutter time, the non-presser foot lever, the tension, etc. I have been sewing for four years now, so I don't know everything. I was ready to admit that I did something wrong to make the machine behave the way it does, but my very experienced saleswoman had the same problems.
I really don't know what I'll do next. Either I will hold onto the machine and trade it in for a newer Sapphire (perhaps they've fixed the problems?) or try and sell it on my own so I can try a different brand or go back to my Opal.